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I Died a Million TimesGangster Noir in Midcentury America$
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Robert Miklitsch

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043611

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.001.0001

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The Brothers Rico

The Brothers Rico

Sunshine Noir and the ’50s Syndicate Picture

(p.77) 3 The Brothers Rico
I Died a Million Times

Robert Miklitsch

University of Illinois Press

The paradigmatic ’50s exposé is The Phenix City Story (1955). Phil Karlson’s film, set in Phenix City, Alabama, “The Wickedest City in America,” possesses voice-over narration and location photography like other ’50s exposés, but it also emits a vérité vibe that’s unmatched in the ’50s crime canon. What separates Karlson’s film from every other “city confidential,” not to mention syndicate picture, is its deep racial-political subtext, which, in the martyred figure of Alabama attorney general nominee Albert Patterson, evokes the pacifist, civil rights movement spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr. Accordingly, if the anti-Communist films of the 1950s can be said to constitute what R. Barton Palmer calls a “national confidential,” The Phenix City Story not only exposes the raced political unconscious of the syndicate picture but also foregrounds its status as both a local and national confidential.

Keywords:   city confidential, syndicate, race, civil rights, exposé, political unconscious, The Phenix City Story

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